Berlin, 5 July 2022. Today the German Federal Administrative Court permanently and finally dismissed an action brought by an environmental association against the planning approval decision issued by the Brandenburg State Office for Mining, Geology and Raw Materials (LBGR) for the construction of the new 380 kV high‑voltage overhead power line between Neuenhagen and Bertikow (the so‑called Uckermark high‑voltage power line). With a length of 116 km, the high‑voltage power line project is among those EnLAG projects for which it is required by law that a need for the project be clearly established.
The ruling (Ref.: 4 A 13.20) will be of tremendous importance to the expansion of the power grid in Germany: The 4th Chamber of the Federal Administrative Court, which has jurisdiction over power line expansion, for the first time had to address a new methodology being applied to flight‑approach risks posed by birds (Bernotat & Dierschke (2016/2021), the “working aid” BfN‑Skript 512 (2018)) and the effectiveness of bird‑protection markers (Liesenjohann et al. BfN‑Skript 537 (2019)). In its ruling, the Chamber held that the methodology used, although it has not yet achieved the status of a professional convention, is currently considered to belong to the “pool of best scientific knowledge”. As a result, ruled the High Court, this methodology can be used to assess significant impairments of Natura 2000 sites and adherence to species protection prohibitions. The Federal Administrative Court's initial opinion on the new methodology will probably provide additional legal security for expansion of the grid under the German Federal Requirements Planning Act at the level of federal sectoral planning and planning approval, for which the German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) is respectively in charge.
Acting as counsel for the project in the proceedings was Dr Gernot Schiller, partner at Redeker Sellner Dahs and specialist lawyer for administrative law. He advises and acts as counsel for licensing authorities and project developers throughout Germany on numerous power line projects in the energy sector.